|Nafie Ali Nafie|
In an editorial published in the 30 June edition of al-Guwat al-Musalaha (the Armed Forces), the official newspaper of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), a publication on demand so to speak, the editor in chief of the paper aggressively blasted the NCP for the 28 June accord signed in Addis Ababa between the Northern Sector of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-N) and the central government in Khartoum to address the situation in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile, in the SPLM-N’s newspeak the New South in North Sudan. Brigadier-General Mohamed Ajeeb Mohamed described the accord as “a betrayal of the nation and the faith”. He was particularly annoyed by the recognition of the SPLM-N as a legitimate political force in the North. Addressing the NCP he concluded “We do not understand a lot of what you say, and among us we perceive you as weak. And was it not for a remaining hope we would stone you since dear to us you are not”. No wonder President Bashir picked up the SAF line in his address to worshippers in a Khartoum mosque on 1 July. The President told his audience that he had instructed the SAF to continue its operations in South Kordofan until the “rebellion” is crushed and the “rebel” and “criminal” Abdel Aziz el-Hilu is captured and brought to justice. President Bashir made no reference whatsoever to the deal negotiated by his senior aide, Nafie Ali Nafie.
Once President Bashir’s favourite and the celebrated strongman of the NCP, Nafie Ali Nafie, who signed the 28 June agreement on behalf of Khartoum in Addis Ababa, chose to avoid the storm and reportedly flew off to London on 2 July for talks with senior British officials, while President Bashir headed to Addis Ababa the next day to take part in an extraordinary summit of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), the regional broker of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), where he is to meet with President Kiir less than a week before the declaration of the independence of South Sudan on 9 July. Expectedly, Nafie’s reputation as a committed hardliner did not save him from the insults of al-Intibaha’s chief, el-Tayeb Mustafa who went as far as accusing Nafie of outright treachery. Nafie who headed the meeting of the NCP’s Leadership Council that discussed the 28 June agreement on 1 July had according to Mustafa plotted to gain the approval of the Council at a moment when President Bashir, recuperating from his troublesome excursion through central Asia on the way to China, could not attend, and both Qutbi el-Mahdi and Ghazi Salah Eldin, expected to disapprove of the deal, were out of the country.
Rather confused and unable to interpret the new signs the NCP’s official paper, al-Raed, tried its best to charter a safe space between Bashir’s war proclamations in al-Nur Mosque and the conciliatory passages of the 28 June accord signed by the ruling party’s Deputy Chairman, Nafie Ali Nafie, and the SPLM-N’s Chairman, Malik Agar. Rather than defend Nafie’s deal as it was named the paper’s columnists argued vigorously that where the ill-willing saw a contradiction the well-meaning could perceive a continuum.
Others in Khartoum’s press suggested that a second Ramadan was in the making, reference being to the Ramadan of 1999 that witnessed the fallout between President Bashir and Hassan el-Turabi. The fact that the SAF had come out openly against the “betrayal” of the NCP was considered by many a marker of a chronic and a recurring division between the military and the civilian blocs in the regime. Some argued that President Bashir may already be considering the option of seriously inviting the National Umma Party (NUP) and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) into the post-secession government in the North at the expense of an unreliable NCP. Well history does repeat itself but as Marx famously stated in the Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte the first time as a tragedy and the second as a farce. The farce of a repeat 4 Ramadan may paradoxically cost President Bashir even the loyalty of the very SAF he seeks to appease. Nafie, why hast thou forsaken me?